Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Ask Collier 8/21/17


Kendrick has been a revalation.  Photo via Federal Baseball/USA Today

Kendrick has been a revalation. Photo via Federal Baseball/USA Today

Sorry for the break in action; i’ve had a difficult month.  And we’re actually on vacation this week, which means we missed last night’s Game of Thrones, which means I’ve got to avoid a dozen different outlets I normally read on Mondays and Tuesdays so as not to spoil it for myself.  But I did see that Nats beat reporter Jamal Collier put out a mailbag, and since i haven’t put up content in a month or so, I thought i’d do a response while the kids slept.

Here’s the questions he took and how i’d have responded.


Q: Updates on the remaining DL members and timing? Who are likely to be September call ups.

A: I’m not going to speculate on the exact days these guys will come back, just note that this team has gone 7-3 in its last ten games, 13-7 in its last twenty, and 18-12 in its last thirty games despite leading the league in D/L spots, having their entire opening day outfield on the D/L, and having 3/5ths of their original rotation on the D/L.  That’s patently ridiculous.  When they get their team back, it’ll be like they went crazy at the trade deadline.  A better question might be who makes the playoff roster if everyone is healthy … because guys like Howie Kendrick are going to make it tough for some long-time players to make that roster.  A post for another time.

September call-ups: If i have my notes right, here’s who’s on the 40-man in the minors currently:

SP: Fedde, Cole, Voth
RP: Gott, Adams
C: Severino, Read
INF: Marmolejos
OF: Bautista

I’m guessing the team re-calls everyone save Voth, Read and Marmolejos.  Voth hasn’t merited it with his performance this year and both Read and Marmolejos may just be too young.

Collier gives some rehab updates on our now 12-man long D/L, and also says that we’ll call up “virtually” every player on the 40-man


Q: If Werth comes back and doesn’t hit, do you think there’s a possibility he becomes a bench guy with Howie/Lind in left field?

A: Absolutely yes.  As I alluded to above, Kendrick may be putting Werth to the bench.  I can’t imagine the team insulting him and leaving him off the playoff roster, not while he has a career .924 OPS in the playoffs.  Adam Lind will not be the starting LF, not in a playoff situation.  You need a real outfielder, not a lumbering pinch hitter.  I know that I often call for “hiding” a guy out there … but Lind is a stretch even by my theory.

Collier thinks there’s no way Werth doesn’t retain his starting spot, unless he’s clearly still hurt.


Q: Is there any chance that Adam Eaton can come back from his injury late in the postseason?

A: No chance.  ACL tears are a year long recovery and then another year past that to regain the confidence to turn on the knee.  He may be optimistic with his rehab, but (following up on the previous question) there’s just no way you’d weaken your bench for a guy coming off an ACL tear.

Collier agrees.


Q : What is your guess on the post-season roster assuming full health except for Eaton?

A: we’ll save it for a separate post.  Collier gives his and its similar to what i’d probably go with.


24 Responses to 'Ask Collier 8/21/17'

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  1. On Werth/Kendrick, I lean more Collier than you. I think the job is Werth’s to lose, and even to do that it would have to be at least partially health related. As for Kendrick’s playoffs stats: (1) you apparently have more faith than I do in the repeatability of playoff stats from year to year; and (2) Werth’s playoff stats don’t suck.

    Fortunately, most of this stuff tends to work itself out. We’re still weeks away from setting the roster.

    John C.

    22 Aug 17 at 10:59 am

  2. Werth vs Kendrick … i think Werth really would have to show he’s still not healthy for it to happen. Maybe my answer was a bit too pro-Kendrick. This team and this manager are not the types to flush 7 years of performance unless its really, really warranted. Thing is … WErth’s injury shouldn’t have taken this long to heal, so that’s why i’m kinda worried about him really being able to come back and perform. At elast he’s finally rehabbing.

    Todd Boss

    22 Aug 17 at 1:41 pm

  3. Gott had sports hernia surgery and may be out for the rest of the year. I assume he will go on the 60-day at some point as they have to clear room for Werth, Turner, and Glover to come off the 60-day. Adams has actually pitched quite well back at Syracuse after his Guthriesque MLB debut.

    There was a report on Nats Prospects over the last couple of days that Voth’s fastball is off 7+ mph, leading everyone to wonder why they don’t just shut him down. There’s obviously something wrong there.

    I also don’t understand why Fedde keeps making starts at Syracuse, while they allow Cole to keep making starts with the big club. The logic there escapes me.


    22 Aug 17 at 2:58 pm

  4. Yikes, 7 mph drop is a serious flag for injury. I’ll bet they can pass Adams through DFA.

    If Werth is active on the playoff roster, he’s starting. That’s what I think they do.


    22 Aug 17 at 3:36 pm

  5. If Gott just had surgery … then there’s no better time than to DFA him and get him off the 40-man.

    If Voth has lost 7mph in AA … then there’s no better time to DFA HIM and get him off the 40-man too.

    Unless they’re both 60-day D/L worthy yeah. My “first guy off the 40-man roster” list goes like this: Gott, Adams, Voth, Marmolejos, Raburn, Cole

    Todd Boss

    22 Aug 17 at 6:18 pm

  6. Someone who was at Voth’s last start at Harrisburg reported on Nats Prospects that the stadium gun was getting him regularly at 85-86. (The same gun had Valdez mid-90s in relief.) I don’t quite recall what Voth’s peak used to be, but I was thinking 93-94. Anyway, it’s a significant and concerning drop.

    The problem with DFAing is that I believe he would be a minor-league free agent at the end of the season, although he could have one more year of control. Todd has a much better handle on those things than I do.

    Voth had pretty decent trade value last offseason. The Nats have made a habit of sitting on guys after good AAA seasons like Voth, Cole, T. Hill, and Jordan, though, then seeing them slump badly in subsequent seasons. The Nate Karns model was the right one — move them when they’ve got value.


    22 Aug 17 at 9:28 pm

  7. Postseason battles: I never thought I’d say this, but at what point do we start talking about EJax possibly unseating Tanner as the 4th starter?


    22 Aug 17 at 9:30 pm

  8. Roark bounced back better after the shaky first three innings when I wrote the last post. I still think he’s the #4 at this point. But a 4.64 ERA doesn’t inspire confidence.


    23 Aug 17 at 6:59 am

  9. I don’t see EJax replacing Roark as the Game 4 starter unless there’s an injury.

    Dusty keeps riding the pitchers way too hard to win these meaningless games. I don’t understand how it doesn’t get more attention. It has me very concerned.


    23 Aug 17 at 7:14 am

  10. Say what you will, but right now, Jackson is pitching better than Roark by almost every measure.

    And Kelley is pitching worse than most other humans employed in MLB, by almost every measure.


    24 Aug 17 at 7:53 am

  11. I have to admit; Jackson’s performance so far has shocked me, based on his results the last couple of years. But Dusty will never replace Roark with him on a playoff roster. YOu’d have to think that would have a negative effect on the clubhouse.

    Todd Boss

    24 Aug 17 at 8:35 am

  12. I’m also totally shocked by what Jackson has done. Someone has flipped a magic switch with him. He did have some good numbers in 2015, but otherwise, he hasn’t been good.

    Jackson has to be on the playoff roster as things stand now, though, doesn’t he? And Kelley certainly looks in jeopardy, despite still being owed $5.5M next year. It’s probably grist for another post, but assuming they take four starters and eight relievers, who ya got?

    Very likely: Doolittle, Madson, Kintzler, Albers, Perez (Dusty loves Ollie)

    Last three spots: Blanton (if he continues his resurgence), EJax, and Romero (rehabbing at Syracuse)

    On the outside looking in: Grace (unless he beats out Romero), Kelley, Solis, Glover (unless he starts throwing soon; Dusty loves him, too)

    A lot could change over the next six weeks, though.


    24 Aug 17 at 9:05 am

  13. Anon was me.


    24 Aug 17 at 9:05 am

  14. I’ll post my post-season roster prediction tomorrow … i’m with you on eJax possibly meriting 8thman in the pen.

    Todd Boss

    24 Aug 17 at 4:06 pm

  15. I think Madson is an injury question mark at this point. I wouldn’t count him in until he is cleared (or at least the path forward is known).


    24 Aug 17 at 4:16 pm

  16. Keith Law during the chat today:

    Kirkie: Daniel Johnson, at Potomac. 20+HR, 20+steals across lo and hi A ball. and apparently all 3 outfield positions with a cannon of an arm too.
    Keith Law: Saw him. Not a centerfielder, not even close. Way too old for low-A, and questionable pitch recognition when I saw him there.

    Hogie: Wilmer Difo has done well filling in for the Nats this season. Everyday regular at SS for someone?
    Keith Law: Everyday regular somewhere for someone.


    24 Aug 17 at 4:21 pm

  17. He called him a 1B a few weeks ago, which doesn’t seem right.

    Just noticed that picture is Goodwin, not Kendrick, right?


    24 Aug 17 at 4:53 pm

  18. Another Johnson homer tonight. Like Wally, I’m not sure Law knows who he is talking about.

    If Law did see Johnson with Hagerstown, he was there to see Soto and Kieboom. Johnson began the season hitting 9th, probably drawing very little attention. Also, for the most part he didn’t play CF at Hags because the higher-picked, higher-paid Perkins did.

    As for age/level, Johnson was drafted last summer and played half-season low-A, as the majority of college draftees do. He started this year at A, a normal progression, and has moved up to A+, where he is thriving.

    It should be pointed out that Johnson only played one season of four-year-college baseball, and that at a non-Power Five school. So my take is that he’s actually a bit ahead of the curve of expected progression, particularly as a player who was generally described as very raw when he was drafted. By contract, his former Hags teammate, Nick Banks, was a Team USA and SEC product from the same draft, and he’s still hitting .235 at A.


    24 Aug 17 at 9:17 pm

  19. Yeah, going to have to disagree with Law on Johnson. He’s a 5th round pick from a smaller school who is right on projection; short-A his debut season, low-A then getting promoted to high A 2nd pro season. He’s not “old” for the level at all. A little SSS so far in high A to pass judgement … but its better numbers than he had in LowA so that’s great.

    Difo: if he’s proven enough to be a full timer, then the Nats have a great trade chip on their hands to go along with Goodwin or Taylor this off-season.

    Todd Boss

    24 Aug 17 at 10:09 pm

  20. Daniel Johnson is doing everything he has to do at A+ to warrant a test at the next level in 2018. And he will have a spot available for him in AA.

    The Nats should field an interesting team in the fall AFL, and perhaps we can see Johnson for ourselves without having to rely on the hallowed Law.

    Going beyond the usual names, one guy who is never discussed here is David Masters. So now I will bring him up. Drafted as an defense first OG in 2013 but hung around and began to show a little pop despite a Mendoza bat, slowly drifted upward but never sustained production and was always outranked on the pecking order.

    Flash forward to now, and he was last seen hitting cleanup for Potomac, on a tear, and starting full time now. A guy to root for; Taylor Gushue started a repeat of A+ fast and cooled, and lost his spot in the pecking order to Jakson Reetz. Masters never had a chance in his second go round, with Edwin Lora getting the push, and now here he is.


    25 Aug 17 at 2:08 am

  21. Of course, the injury to Gutierrez had something to do with it. But he has risen to the occasion.


    25 Aug 17 at 2:09 am

  22. The terribly depleted Nats won two out of three at the wild-card-contending Angels and two out of three at the AL-best Astros. They’re now essentially tied with the ‘Stros for best record were they to meet in the World Series. I’m not sure Houston has the pitching to make it that far, though, either the starters or middle relief (sorry, Clip, you ain’t what you used to be). Their lineup plus Correa is going to be formidable, though.

    I nearly fell out of my seat laughing at FP’s take on the asinine “competitive balance” picks: “You mean if you suck AND you’re cheap, they give you extra picks? How does that work?” Exactly.


    25 Aug 17 at 8:13 am

  23. Nat “races”: +13.5 on the Marlins for the division (the Fish are now a respectable 63-63 and playing very well); +8.5 on the Cubs for home field in the NLDS; and in a statistical tie with the Astros for home field for the World Series, with the Nats up a game in the loss column.

    The Nats are -13.5 to the Dodgers and their ridiculous 116-win pace. The Nats are still on pace to win 98, which is remarkable considering the injuries.


    25 Aug 17 at 8:24 am

  24. Ok, here was tonight’s lineup; Stevenson, Sanchez, Murphy, Lind, Difo, Taylor, De Aza, Lobaton, Cole.

    Talk about punting a game. Just one “starter.” Stevenson started the year in AA, Sanchez and De Aza were AAA fodder, one for another team. Cole 7th or so on the depth chart. I guess the Mets are happy for a win but man, that wasn’t even a split squad strenght lineup.

    Todd Boss

    25 Aug 17 at 11:35 pm

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